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Holly Karlsson
Holly Karlsson

Holly is an American fantasy & science fiction author who loves magic, dragons, and old forests.

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Oola sat at the pril table, pale blue hand resting nonchalantly atop her cards. It was a winning hand, she was certain. The dealer, two out of three eyes closed in a deceptively apathetic way, gestured at the man on Kola’s right and turned a pril card face up. The man cursed and stood, mouth an angry line as he tossed his cards and snatched a drink from a passing server’s tray.

Resisting a smile with a slight pursing of her lips, Oola nodded at the dealer. A pair of diamond-back owls. Perfect.

“How’s it going?” Ressi’s voice purred in Oola’s ear, followed by a husky laugh over the hidden earpiece. “Perhaps you should look a touch less smug, darling?”

The dealer raised an eyebrow, and Oola nodded. A Twice-Hung Queen.

Allowing herself a slight smile now, Oola turned over all her cards. A perfect win. The band around her wrist vibrated, and she turned her arm, eyeing the sizable addition of a thousand credits.

“Well done,” Ressi said, “the House Master is on his way.”

Touching her fingers to the space above her lip in thanks to the dealer, Oola slid off her chair. Moving towards the bar, she affected an expression of surprise as a tall man with dark blue skin and a sharp-featured, brooding face stepped into her path. On the House Master’s heels was a muscular woman with a veil over her eyes and nose, and a matte gray mercenary robot.

“Miss Tanathorn, I would like to invite you to a private game.” The House Master’s smile revealed sharp, white teeth.

Oola beamed. “Oh? I’d be honored.”

“And so the trap springs,” Ressi purred.


I’ll be including this story in my upcoming book of flash fiction, Unusual Diction: Volume 3. I have a habit of posting the stories as I write them, but I’m also planning on including stories you’ve never seen before. 🙂 Keep an eye on my blog for an update on when the newest volume will be released!

Cards photo by Gui Avelar on Unsplash

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